Ranking the NBA First Round Matchups

An Analysis of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs.

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I have finally made it back from the dead.  After a long hiatus I have decided that it’s time to write again.  I will start by ranking the NBA’s First Round matchups from least-to-greatest.  That way you know which games to watch, and which one’s you might fall asleep at.  Let’s begin at #8.

8.  #1 Cleveland Cavaliers versus #8 Detroit Pistons

Let’s face it we all know which team is going to win this series, and most of us probably will be surprised if this doesn’t end in a sweep for LeBron James and company as he tries to make his 6th straight Finals.  Detroit has made their first playoffs since 2009 and I’m not discrediting them, it’s just that all the star power is on the Cavaliers.  Granted Andre Drummond averages 14.8 rebounds per game so he’s a great post player, but that’s not going to be enough especially considering LeBron is on a mission.
7.  #2 San Antonio Spurs versus #7 Memphis Grizzlies
I am placing this slightly above the Cavaliers/Pistons series because the Memphis Grizzlies actually put up a fight against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.  Granted the Warriors still won, but regardless we have a team in Memphis that won’t quit.  However with that being said, they might as well be holding their press conferences at a local hospital considering how they have used 28 players so far this year.  Good lord, I don’t think the Seahawks even had that many injuries in that disastrous 2008 season.  San Antonio is 40-1 at home, and I will be very surprised if Memphis makes this a series.  The Spurs did win over 60 games this year.
6. #3 Oklahoma City Thunder versus #6 Dallas Mavericks
The only reason the Mavericks got into the 6th spot was because the Grizzlies were so God-Awful that they lost pretty much every game during their stretch run to close out the season.  Still this could be a great series because there’s a lot of star power that exists between those teams, especially the matchup between Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.  Dallas could easily win a game or two on the road, but ultimately the Thunder should win this series.  There is a very thick line between the top four teams in the Western Conference and the other playoff contenders.
5. #2 Toronto Raptors versus #7 Indiana Pacers
The Toronto Raptors are well poised to take the next steps to becoming a championship contender.  They need to make it past the first round though, as they’ve fallen short in their last two seasons.  Toronto should advance, but they’re going against a Pacers team led by Paul George that has a lot of playoff experience and George’s 23.1 PPG to boot.  DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are definitely two of the more underrated players in the NBA, and now is a better time than any for Canada’s only basketball team to make a statement.
4. #1 Golden State Warriors versus #8 Houston Rockets
The reason why I’ve placed this series so high isn’t because of a 73-win team in Golden State, it’s that their opponent has dodged cannonballs to get to this point.  At one point the Rockets weren’t even going to be in the playoffs, disappointing considering their finish last year, but they’ve pulled themselves together to win their last three games.  James Harden is a highlight machine waiting to happen, and Dwight Howard is well a tantrum waiting to happen.  The Harden/Curry matchup is definitely something I will be watching closely.  Will the Rockets make an impact…probably not, but at least they’ll gain style points.
3. #3 Miami Heat versus #6 Charlotte Hornets
 
This very well could easily be an upset.  I can see Charlotte stinging the Heat and getting through to face the Toronto/Indiana winner.  Kemba Walker thinks he’s back at UConn and has led his team to a surprise 48-34 season.  The Heat after failing to make the playoffs have reloaded with Hassan Whiteside and Joe Johnson to complement Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade to forget about a certain player who went Cavalier.  I think the Heat probably will win, but I don’t think the Hornets have been this good since the Mid 90’s when I was 5 or 6 years old.  This is one you may want to pay attention to.
2. #4 Atlanta Hawks versus #5 Boston Celtics
There seems to be a giant logjam between the 3 and 6 spots in the Eastern Conference because all four of these teams have finished with the same record.  Atlanta has fallen off from last season’s 60-win campaign, but they still more or less have the same players.  The Celtics meanwhile have gotten much better.  They have an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas, and a brilliant coach in Brad Stevens who has really carved a niche for himself in the NBA (he almost beat Golden State twice).  Boston plays great team basketball, and the decision to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013 doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, especially since they get the Nets draft picks.  I think Boston will win, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Atlanta use their playoff experience from last year to win this one.
1. #4 Los Angeles Clippers versus #5 Portland Trail Blazers
I think this is a great matchup because the underdog might actually have a chance in this loaded Western Conference.  I did not see Portland doing this well, especially after losing 4 of 5 starters, one of those being LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs.  The Clippers are picking up where they left off last season and have won 10 of their last 12 games.  Not bad for a team that potentially was considering trading Blake Griffin midway through the season after punching an equipment manager.  Damian Lillard has had a remarkable season for the Blazers, averaging 25.1 PPG and making over 200 three’s on the year.  The Clippers have a more complete team, but if anyone can surprise you it will be Portland.  The reason why this is #1 is because this could go seven games.  Blazers win if it does, Clippers win if it doesn’t.
Sorry if I was a little rusty, let me know what you thought and enjoy the weekend.
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